Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed into law a bill that will reduce unsolicited commercial phone intrusions by updating the state’s “Do Not Call” registry to include text messages.

The law bans text messages without a written or verbal request from a consumer and also prohibits unsolicited automatically dialed and recorded telephone calls without a consumer’s prior express written consent.

"Robocalls and unsolicited phone messages are a nuisance to residents who should be able to expect reasonable restrictions on telemarketing and meaningful penalties for violations," said Rep. Dan Carter (R-Conn.), a ranking member of the legislature’s General Law Committee.

On a national scale, the issue is a concern for the collection industry and ACA International has asked the Federal Communications Commission to consider how the Telephone Consumer Protection Act is applied to ensure legitimate debt collection calls are not unfairly limited.

The Connecticut law, according to Malloy's office, strengthens consumer protections by banning unsolicited commercial text messages and increasing the penalty for violations. The maximum fine for each registry violation jumps from $11,000 to $20,000 and all companies that issue account statements for cellular phones, telephones and mobile devices are required to print a notice at least twice each year informing consumers of prohibited actions by solicitors, how to place their numbers on the registry and how to obtain a complaint form from the state's Department of Consumer Protection.

"The do-not-call registry provides consumers with protection and privacy from unwanted telemarketing calls, and as technology evolves we must update it to ensure these consumer rights," Malloy said in a statement. "In addition to being an annoyance, some cell phone plans charge a fee for each text message received, whether that message was wanted or not. This new law strengthens these consumer protections by banning unsolicited commercial text messages and increasing the penalty for these types of violations."

Collections & Credit Risk is interested in hearing from Telephone Consumer Protection Act experts and those versed in the subject of collectors using text messages. Please contact Darren Waggoner at darren.waggoner@sourcemedia.com.

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